We can’t even fathom what’s going to happen come January and the 2017 legislative session begins. With Republicans now in control of the House, two branches of government belong to the GOP — the Governor’s Office and the Legislature. Committee make up of all House committees will have a different look as the GOP moves from minority, with very few members on a committee, to where committee leadership and the majority are now from the Republican side of the chamber. We’re accustomed to the Senate now, with its majority having been Republican for several years.
What I have heard from a couple of the House members is encouraging. In a word, “Transparency” could be the operative word. But then reading about comprehensive tax reform always gets my ears tuned in, because that normally means a tax of services. And a tax of services usually includes a tax on advertising.
Honestly, I’m not fretting that being an issue for the newspaper industry. The reason is something called “Double Taxation.” Having a state sales tax on circulation is an advantage when it comes to hearing about a tax on advertising. Yes we’ve argued against a tax on services/advertising since first mentioned in Gov. Martha Layne Collins’ budget address in January, 1984. And we fought it in 1990 with Gov. Wallace Wilkinson. It really hasn’t been an issue since then.
And while we can mention opposition to the idea to any of the legislators, the last statement is always the most important. “We already have the tax on circulation. So you would creating an unconstitutional double taxation — taxing the product and now attempting to tax what is in the product.”
Where we stand with other issues remains to be seen. With the number of new legislators coming in, with the House membership in a position it hasn’t been in for 95 years everyone will just be feeling their way through the process. It’s a short session — 30 days — but made even shorter because the first four days are the Organizational Session when committees normally don’t meet. So that cuts the work to about 26 days tops. That’s not a lot of time to get bills through the entire process.
A side note: Missouri voters pass amendment banning a sales tax expansion. That includes no tax on services, no tax on advertising. Can you imagine the Kentucky legislature giving even 10 seconds to considering such an amendment in Kentucky? No way. Seldom it seems we have constitutional amendments on the ballot and prohibiting expansion of the sales tax probably is the last thing our legislators would think about.